OSS - Addictive, important & can make you feel great
The Wonderful World of Open Source Software
Open Source Software (OSS) is something that I have been passionate about before, we have all likely used OSS many times, but maybe don't appreciate exactly how great it is. I mean, I use it daily, my life would literally change without it and it is developed, maintained and more completely free. How?, great question, basically people just chip in and make great things that they then share with everyone else - it's awesome!
You will hear many people suggest you should contribute to OSS and I am another one who would suggest the same. However I know first hand how difficult and overwhelming it can be.
There are many reasons you would want to contribute to OSS, I will try discuss a few reasons here that I think are important for developers.
Experience - If you are looking to get your first job or perhaps move to a new job that maybe in a different language or tech stack then the company will likely want previous experience. How does one get experience in the first place?... Well OSS of course, if you make significant contributions to a project that is your experience. There is a record of everything you have done in the public repo, all your discussions and comments will be there too. Maintainers of the project can end up being your references.
Networking - Networking is a massively important skill in all walks of life, perhaps none more so than in your professional life. Having a good network can lead to all sorts of weird and wonderful opportunities that otherwise wouldn't present themselves to you. Working with others on OSS promotes communication with people from all over the world, you will likely make life long connections and friends to boot.
Remote Experience - The way we work is changing drastically, remote work will (in my opinion) one day become the norm. I myself work from home a couple of days per week at my current job and would definitely be interested in doing so full time in the future. Be that for my current employer or a remote only company. The benefits are crazy, I am planning on writing about my thoughts on remote work soon, so I would go in depth here. But many of these remote only companies will like to see previous remote experience, some proof if you like that you can work well in a remote setting. So, here we are back to our vicious circle... and once again OSS is here to save your day, contributing to open source shows you can collaborate with others in a remote setting.
Looks good on your CV -OSS contributions on your CV can set you apart from the rest of the applicants. It shows you are passionate about your craft, actively looking to improve the software you use and much more. If you are a well established contributor then it could well be a launchpad into your dream role for your dream company.
How to Get Started
If this is something you want to get into (HINT it should be) then I would recommend visiting this website. It is packed full of useful tips to get started. Just remember start slow and ease into it, my first contributions was tidying up some documentation, it was actually for Gatsby which ended up earning me some free swag and maintainer status :).